Posts tagged with 'Pakistan'
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
Nearly a decade ago, America’s War on Terror began as a manhunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But over the next nine years, that anti-terrorism effort evolved into a multi-faceted crusade: birthing a new national security agency, blossoming into two bloody wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, institutionalizing the racial profiling and surveillance of Muslim Americans and even redefining unauthorized Latin American immigration as—of all things—a national security issue. Now, in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, which elements of that crusade will persist or expand and which—if any—will dissolve?
Muslim Americans celebrate bin Laden’s death…
Following the announcement of bin Laden’s death last Sunday, Americans feverishly rejoiced at the news that a mission actually was accomplished in the War on Terror. Profoundly, the celebrants included scores of individuals who had unwittingly become targets of that crusade—Pakistani immigrants and American Muslims.
Mohsin Zaheer of Feet in Two Worlds reports that Islamic groups in the United States wasted no time applauding President Barack Obama for Bin Laden’s death, taking the opportunity to distance themselves and Islam from the legacy of the slain terrorist. And while many Americans forget that the 9/11 terror attacks killed nationals from 70 different countries, Zaheer notes that the many immigrants who lost loved ones that day took some comfort in knowing that justice has been done.
But Muslims in the U.S. also had another cause for celebration. Bin Laden’s death coincided with the termination of a grossly discriminatory federal program that has targeted, tracked and deported thousands of immigrants from predominately Muslim countries since 2002. ColorLines.com’s Channing Kennedy describes the program (called NSEERS or the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System) as “one of the most explicitly racist, underreported initiatives in post-9/11 America” which “functioned like Arizona’s SB 1070, with working-class Muslims as the target.” The Department of Homeland Security has been vague about its reasons for ending the program, but the decision amounts to a victory for immigrant rights groups that have been protesting the effort since its launch nine years ago.
…but still face an uncertain fate
That said, the fate of Muslims in America is far from rosy. As Seth Freed Wessler notes at ColorLines.com, the Department of Homeland Security continues to target, detain and deport Muslims “in equally insidious, but less formal ways” than the NSEERS program.
Pointing to investigations by “Democracy Now!” and the Washington Monthly, Wessler explains that the Department of Justice “has repeatedly used secret informant-instigators to manufacture terrorist plots” and advocated religious intolerance, racial profiling and harassment in its search for homegrown terrorists. Through these means, the quest for security has degenerated into the systemic persecution of American Muslims and countless other immigrants deemed threats to national security becaue their race, religion or nationality. And that didn’t die with bin Laden.
As recently as last March, in fact, Republican Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, held a hearing on the radicalization of Muslim Americans—during which numerous witnesses repeatedly reiterated the dire threat posed by radical Muslims in the U.S. At the time, Behrouz Saba of New America Media noted that the hearing lacked any discussion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and its impact on radicalization. Rather than critically examine the many ways in which U.S. foreign policy and military conflict breeds the monster it aims to destroy, the hearing instead served to demonize a growing, well-educated and largely law-abiding population of the United States.
The Latin American link
But the War on Terror has deeply impacted other marginalized communities as well. Even the circumstances of bin Laden’s death bears an alleged connection to the frought issue of Latin American immigration to the U.S.—an issue that has, itself, undergone massive scrutiny and regulation following 9/11.
ThinkProgress reports that one of the Navy Seals involved in Bin Laden’s extermination is, purportedly, the son of Mexican migrants. While the veracity of that claim has been contested by some, Colorlines.com’s Jamilah King argues that the rumor nevertheless “raises serious questions around the military’s recruitment of Latino youth, the staggering numbers of Latino war causalities, and the Obama administration’s often contradictory messages on immigration reform.” She continues:
Casualties among Latino soldiers in Iraq rank highest compared to other groups of soldiers of color. Yet while the military actively courts Latino youth and immigrants with one hand, it’s aggressively deporting them and their families with the other.
It’s worth noting that, within the government, the most vocal proponents of the DREAM Act supported the legislation because they expected it to dramatically increase Latino enrollment in the military. While the DREAM Act ultimately died in the Senate, proponents of its military provision are perpetuating a troubling and persistent dichotomy that is only reinforced in the wake of bin Laden’s demise: immigrants are welcome on our battlefields, but not in our neighborhoods.
It’s comforting, albeit naïve, to believe that Osama bin Laden’s death will cap a decade of military conflict and draw a torturously long anti-terrorism crusade to a close. More likely, our multiple wars will persist longer than they should, and our domestic security apparatus will continue targeting the most vulnerable members of our society under the misguided notion that such enforcement strengthens rather than divides us.
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by Nezua, TMC MediaWire Blogger
In 2008, a disturbing trend developed in mainstream media regarding Mexico. While Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón began his aggression against the Cartels roughly two years ago, the resulting uptick in violence was of no real interest to mainstream media. But when the U.S. Joint Forces Command report Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008) was issued in November, 2008, and declared Mexico and Pakistan nations in danger of a “rapid and sudden collapse,” mainstream news outlets and certain politicians began broadcasting fears of violence spilling over into the US.
Coverage quickly snowballed into a cycle of reporting grounded in unsubstantiated fear, which led to calls to further militarize the border. Democracy Now! highlights how President Obama’s readiness to deploy the National Guard to the border is directly linked to the sensationalized mainstream coverage. In an interview with host Amy Goodman, Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Policy Program for the Center for International Policy, says:
When we started to look at some of these articles talking about spillover of Mexican violence into the United States, what we found is that there’s no evidence of that whatsoever at this point. … In the case of using statistics, like there’s a lot of talk about the number of kidnappings in Phoenix, it turns out that many times those statistics are spurious, and they have no backup. They’ve been invented, or they’ve been twisted in many cases.
This is a real warning sign for us, because when we see an exaggerated threat assessment, as we’re seeing right now in terms of spillover of Mexican violence to the United States, it’s generally a prelude to militarization.
And it is: Truthdig reports on “a crime-fighting operation targeting Mexican drug cartels on a scale not seen since the battles against the US mafia” in F.B.I. Runs for the Border.
The War on Drugs has returned, via aid/force packages like Plan Mérida that simply recycle failed plans (like Plan Colombia). Under increased militarization, drug production actually goes up, as does the body count, but the seizure of drugs decreases.
In the interests of full disclosure, the increasing exploitation of the Mexican people and militarization of border towns like Ciudad Juarez and El Paso—my father’s birthplace—affect me on a deeply personal level. My father was the first of Herreras in my family to be born here. I am a citizen. He makes sure to remind me that my abuela (grandmother) gained her green card legally. I read of harm done to people like my grandmother—legal and undocumented and citizens alike—in jails teeming with neglect and hatred and it disturbs me. Immigration must be discussed as a human, not military issue.
In the below video from GritTV, Rosa Clemente, Immigration Campaign Director for Amnesty International USA, talks about the lack of response from the Obama Administration on immigration, even though ICE is predicting 400,000 arrests in 2009 and our 2009 budget allots 6.1 billion to the construction of new prisons. How many of those prisons will be detention centers?
Opponents of immigration reform (and often immigrants themselves) often imply that they really do adore legal immigrants. Joshua Holland makes it clear how very tenuous that line is in AlterNet’s I Married an Illegal Immigrant. Holland writes that “the difference between legal and illegal is often a matter of simple chronology rather than a reflection of the character of the person in question.”
Disguising undocumented “aliens” as an unwanted, criminal horde, rather than productive members of our own society runs counter to American ideals of freedom and equality. It becomes easier to simply lock down the border and take a harsher stance, even if many of those who migrate were displaced by our own government’s actions in the first place.
The Drug War model is a failed method of dealing with immigration, even though Obama seems intent to resurrect it. Writing for The Progressive, Yolanda Chávez Leyva says:
For more than twenty years, those of us who live on the border have witnessed the increasing militarization of the border. The border wall is a daily reminder of this, as are the helicopters that fly over our neighborhoods, the checkpoints manned by the Border Patrol and local law enforcement, as well as the daily harassment of citizens who happen to have darker skin. We are frequently the target of various “wars” —against undocumented migration, against terrorism and now against drugs. I am tired of living in a war zone.
The model of “war” has not worked, and it will not work.
President Felipe Calderón—who Democracy Now! reports was elected in “the most controversial election in Mexican history”—is spoken of glowingly by our politicians, who are full of praise for his violence against the Cartels. Elena Shore details some of this language for New America Media.
Going back to Lauren Carlsen’s interview with Democracy Now!: “It’s completely unacceptable to ask a society to accept higher levels of violence as a sign that we are winning the drug war.” She’s right. We will never “win” the “drug war.” The body count is growing. More prisons are being built. People of color are the primary victims. And now, President Obama talks of sending the military down to meet Mexico’s military at the border. But what about the people caught in the middle? What about the people suffering in ICE’s custody today? What about the 400,000 more that ICE plans to capture in 2009?
We need better solutions than more guns and more soldiers. Militarization simply leads to more violence.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.